- Learn how to prepare Ecuadorian cuisine in a cooking class
- Explore the beautiful cloud forest of Mindo
- Sleep in a traditional hacienda in Cotopaxi National Park
- Zip-line or swing high over the gorgeous scenery of Baños
- Drive along the awe-inspiring Avenue of Waterfalls
|Day 1||Arrive in Quito & Sightsee||Quito|
|Day 2||Take a Cooking Class & Tour Mitad del Mundo||Quito|
|Day 3||Shop at Otavalo Market & Visit Cuicocha Lagoon||Quito|
|Day 4||Visit the Cloud Forest of Mindo||Quito|
|Day 5||Explore Cotopaxi National Park||Cotopaxi|
|Day 6||Hike Around Quilotoa Lagoon||Baños|
|Day 7||Discover the Waterfalls & Landscapes of Baños||Quito|
|Day 8||Depart Quito - End of Trip|
Day 1: Arrive in Quito & Sightsee
Welcome to Ecuador! The entire city of Quito is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Standing at an altitude of 9,350 feet (2,850 meters), it welcomes visitors with its picturesque plazas situated between mountain peaks. The city has an abundance of marketplaces, shamanistic healers, and fourth-generation hat makers, as well as a vibrant and sophisticated culinary and nightlife scene. Spend your first day in the country exploring the capital and sampling Ecuadorian cuisine, then get some rest.
Day 2: Take a Cooking Class & Tour Mitad del Mundo
Today, your guide will take you on a walking tour through the colonial center of Quito. You will visit the Plaza Grande and the beautiful churches La Compañía and La Basílica. Walk down the oldest street of Quito, La Ronda.
Next, you will participate in a cooking class. With a local chef, you'll shop for produce in a marketplace, then you'll learn how to prepare a few traditional Ecuadorian dishes. Enjoy this freshly made lunch, followed by coffee. Afterward, you will visit the equatorial monument Mitad del Mundo, where French scientists determined the position of the equator's line many years ago. Stop for dinner in a traditional restaurant, then stay overnight at your hotel in Quito.
Day 3: Shop at Otavalo Market & Visit Cuicocha Lagoon
Today, visit Otavalo Market, one of the most important and traditional markets in all of South America. The region's indigenous people gather here to buy and trade everything from handicrafts to fresh vegetables and fruits. Take a stroll through the streets near the market and try some local street food, such as salted mango or fritada con mote (fried pork with cooked corn).
In the afternoon, hike around the crater lagoon of Cuicocha. On the trail, your guide will point out the high-altitude flora and fauna and explain the history of the once active volcano. In the evening you will return to Quito.
Day 4: Visit the Cloud Forest of Mindo
This morning, a driver will pick you up at your hotel and drive you to the lush cloud forest of Mindo. This forest's location at the western slopes of the Andean highlands means mild temperatures and a lot of rainfall, which help nourish its incredible biodiversity. Once you arrive, you'll be able to see hundreds of different bird species, visit the butterfly garden, hike to beautiful waterfalls, or ride a zip line through the forest.
Later, take a tour of the nearby chocolate factory and learn how locally grown cacao beans are processed to create delicious candy. In the late afternoon, you'll head back to Quito.
Day 5: Explore Cotopaxi National Park
Leave Papallacta this morning and head south to Cotopaxi National Park. Visit Lake Limpiopungo, located in the highlands, offering a spectacular view of Cotopaxi Volcano's gigantic cone. Lake Limpiopungo is home to a variety of birds and some wild horses, too. Go for a short walk around the lake to admire Andean plants and wildlife.
You'll reach a traditional hacienda just in time for lunch. Afterward, go for a scenic horseback excursion in the foothills of Rumiñahui Volcano, explore the surroundings on a mountain bike, or just relax at the hacienda, where you'll spend the night.
Day 6: Hike Around Quilotoa Lagoon
Today you will visit a picturesque volcano lagoon, Quilotoa. Walk along the crater’s rim to enjoy the splendid view, or hike down a path to the crater lake. You'll also have the option to rent a mule for the excursion. In the afternoon, you'll continue to Baños. Choose one of several excellent restaurants near your hotel to enjoy a traditional Ecuadorian-style meal.
Day 7: Discover the Waterfalls & Landscapes of BañosThis morning, you will drive along the so-called Avenue of Waterfalls with a local guide. Traveling south from Baños, you will follow the Pastaza River on its way through the valley of the same name. Passing a number of waterfalls, you will reach the village of Rio Verde, where you will stop to visit the well-known waterfall known as Pailón del Diablo ("Devil's Cauldron").
Day 8: Depart Ecuador - End of Trip
The trip ends today. Head to the airport in Quito to catch a flight out. Safe travels!
More Great Ecuador Itineraries
Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Ecuador? Check out these other Ecuador itineraries, with cultural trips, outdoor adventures, and best-of tours to hit the highlights.
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